Raphael Ekpang, Abuja
The Federal Government yesterday confirmed that no fewer than 50 world leaders would attend the inauguration of the President-elect Muhammadu Buhari. The confirmation came as the Federal Government also denied the allegation that it had earmarked a whopping N3billion for the inauguration, saying the government was not bothered about the money but ready and committed to conduct a proper inauguration in order to sustain the integrity and position of Nigeria in the comity of nations. The Chairman, Media Publicity Sub-committee of the Inauguration Planning Committee and the Minister of Culture, Tourism and National Orientation, Chief Edem Duke, who disclosed this at a media briefing in Abuja to highlight the activities of the inauguration, noted that everything had been put in place to have a smooth transition.
His words: “I will like to reiterate the fact that special attention has been put in place for security during the inauguration and we are indeed saying that the securities agencies are working in close contact to make sure that there is no threat to the security of this inauguration. “I will also like to place on record, as we speak, that 54 countries on the continent of Africa have been invited, very many Heads of State will be coming down, it has been a huge interest especially, from heads of countries in Europe to attend this inauguration and as at last count, we have in excess of about 50 Heads of States and delegations expected at this inauguration. “So, this in itself is the plus for the image of Nigeria and we have attracted such positive attention for this handing over.” To kick-start the inauguration, a Jumat service was observed at the Abuja National Mosque yesterday ahead of the ceremony and a Thanksgiving Church Service will be conducted tomorrow, Sunday, May 24 at the National Christian Centre, Abuja, while the inauguration dinner will be held at the State House on Thursday, May 28 .
The swearing-in-ceremony will be conducted at the Eagles Square at 1pm. The Minister further stated that apart from the Muslim and Christian services, arrangement had been made to have a big screen telecast in some strategic locations for the general public to follow activities of the swearing-in to enable those without invitation to the Eagles Square to watch the ceremony from afar. While fielding questions from journalists on how much was budgeted for the inauguration, Duke answered: “The important thing is not the cost, the important thing is the essence of executing a proper inauguration to sustain the integrity and position of Nigeria in the comity of nations.
“All over the world, focus is on Nigeria and we need to do an inauguration that would be comparable to whatever inauguration we have in any part of the world. No president is less important than another, but I want to assure Nigerians that we couldn’t have executed this inauguration with any amount more or less than what is being expended today . I can assure you that we working on very stringent budget. “The amount is modest and if I give you the figures, you will be shocked definitely, not N3 billion, not even N2billion as it was acclaimed by some section of media.” Also speaking on the preparations, the APC Senator-elect representing Kogi State federal constituency, who is a committee member, Dino Melaye, said: “On the part of All Progressives Congress (APC), we are very ready and are working harmoniously with outgoing government for a smooth transition.”